Proposal for town ‘as big as Royston’ in South Cambs

PUBLISHED: 08:25 23 August 2018

Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar looks over his plans for housing development on his land. Picture: DANNY LOO

Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar looks over his plans for housing development on his land. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

A town “as big as Royston” could be built around Heydon if a proposal by the owner of the village’s golf club is given the green light.

Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar. Picture: DANNY LOOHeydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar. Picture: DANNY LOO

John Akhtar, who founded Heydon Grange Golf Club 25 years ago, has put in a request for pre-application advice on a proposal for 9,620 dwellings on more than 2,000 acres of farmland around three sides of Heydon.

As well as the homes – 3,000 of which would be classed as ‘affordable’ – the proposal includes offices, a retirement home, NHS facilities, cafes, restaurants and bars, places of worship, community centre, supermarkets, library, gym, primary school, secondary school, 24-hour shopping centre and park & ride and more.

Mr Akhtar has said the opportunity for the villagers and new residents will be enormous, but there have been concerns raised about the scale of the proposed development.

The plans for housing development on Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar's land. Picture: DANNY LOOThe plans for housing development on Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar's land. Picture: DANNY LOO

The Crow spoke to Mr Akhtar about the proposal – which he said he’s been working on for eight or nine months.

He said: “It would be as big as Royston and I’m sure everybody in the villages are against it because nobody wants a development in their back yard – that’s the trouble. I respect their views and want to address their concerns.

“I want to give them facilities, many of which you can’t get in Royston – so you have to go to Cambridge where it’s so busy.

The plans for housing development on Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar's land. Picture: DANNY LOOThe plans for housing development on Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar's land. Picture: DANNY LOO

“The development wouldn’t be done in one phase – because it’s so big so it would be done in two or three phases.

“A lot of developers are keen on the site, because it’s the right side of Cambridge and has good links to the M11, the A505 and more.

“You can’t be sure if it will get permission, but we can at least try.

Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club, which Mr Akhtar built up 25 years ago. Picture: DANNY LOOHeydon Grange Golf and Country Club, which Mr Akhtar built up 25 years ago. Picture: DANNY LOO

“The councils are all very negative, but if we can have a meeting and tell residents within 10 miles the benefits of what the development will bring then we are more hopeful.

“The response I’m getting is ‘why here?’, but everywhere you go there’s the same problem.

“Views will be most welcome and we want to keep people on board – I want to work with residents.

Chair of Heydon parish council Diana McFadyen's home nears the land that could be built on. Picture: DANNY LOOChair of Heydon parish council Diana McFadyen's home nears the land that could be built on. Picture: DANNY LOO

“Heydon grange cost me £5.5 million 25 years ago and we have farmed Heydon for 45 years.

“I am trying to help people living around here, but I know you can’t please everybody.”

Diana McFadyen, the chair of Heydon Parish Council, has released a statement to the homes in the village informing them of the proposal.

The panoramic view from chair of Heydon Parish Council Diana McFadyen's property of Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar's land. Picture: DANNY LOOThe panoramic view from chair of Heydon Parish Council Diana McFadyen's property of Heydon Grange Golf and Country Club owner John Akhtar's land. Picture: DANNY LOO

She told the Crow: “We know housing is needed, but quite a lot of the people here moved here from towns to be in this area – one of the most beautiful areas of Cambridgeshire – so they don’t want another town.

“If this land, or any other substantial area of land, is submitted for consideration in the next Local Plan then a meeting of the village will be called to discuss the way forward.”

A resident of neighbouring Chrishall, who did not want to be named, said: “The impact on residents and Chrishall itself would be huge.

“I’m sure there are businesses in the area who would be pleased about a development of this size, but there would be a visual impact on what is a beautiful area.

“There would be an impact on all the villages around here, and the A505 – Chrishall would become a rat run.”

District councillor Deborah Roberts, who represents Foxton and Fowlmere, said: “It’s absolutely crucial that something of this magnitude is made known to the people who it would be affecting as soon as possible.

“We want to let people know that this is somebody’s ambition, and it may affect their lives, so the sooner they are told about it the more democratic the process.”

A South Cambridgeshire District Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that Mr Akhtar has asked us for advice on the possibility of around 9,000 homes near Heydon.

“He has not submitted a planning application and we have been clear with him that his suggestion of new homes in this location could not be supported at this time.

“We have consulted extensively with communities on a new Local Plan, which guides how we will develop the area up until 2031.

“The plan does not include any new major housing sites in the location he has asked us for advice on.”

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